Donald Trump has a problem. There’s a special election in Alabama. The Republican would preserve a slim 52-vote majority for him in the Senate. But that Republican has taken a hit in most polls due to recently revealed scandals. What to do?
At The Daily Beast, Lachlan Markay has a piece that suggests the answer: Trump’s Plan For Alabama: Back Roy Moore Without Mentioning His Name:
Trump captured that dynamic in a series of Sunday morning tweets that effectively endorsed Moore’s candidacy without mentioning his name.
“I endorsed [incumbent Sen.] Luther Strange in the Alabama Primary. He shot way up in the polls but it wasn’t enough,” Trump wrongly claimed. “Can’t let Schumer/Pelosi win this race. Liberal Jones would be BAD!” he added, referring to Doug Jones, the Democratic candidate in the race.
Backing Moore without mentioning him has become the Trump White House’s default position when pressed on the allegations against the former state Supreme Court justice. After declaring in the wake of the allegations against Moore “that there is no Senate seat worth more than a child,” White House counselor Kellyanne Conway suddenly shifted her tone last week, focusing solely on opposition to Jones and avoiding any affirmative defense of his opponent.
“We want the votes in the Senate to get this tax bill through,” Conway told Fox and Friends last week. Jones “will be a vote against tax cuts. He is weak on crime. Weak on borders. He is strong on raising your taxes. He is terrible for property owners,” she insisted. Asked whether that amounted to a Moore endorsement, Conway would only say: “I’m telling you that we want the votes in the Senate to get this tax bill through.”
As an aside: the tax bill is garbage. It does nothing to cut the deficit at a time of a $20 trillion debt. But Conway’s quotes seem in line with the Trump strategy of backing Moore mainly by concentrating on how bad the Democrat would be.
Frankly, it’s his best option and the one that worked for him. There’s no real need to rally the Moore faithful; they’re with him no matter what. For everybody else, the optimal stategy is clear: otherize someone who is very easy to otherize, and remove the focus from the flawed person carrying the Republican banner.
Did I say flawed person? Why yes, I did. Let me back that up, and start by not mentioning the seduction of teenagers.
I have laid out the case against Moore before, here. I quoted a 2004 post from BeldarBlog, which quoted Bill Pryor’s speech on the need to protect the rule of law by removing Roy Moore from the Alabama Supreme Court:
The stakes here are high, because this case raises a fundamental question. What does it mean to have a government of laws and not of men? …. Because Chief Justice Roy Moore, despite his special responsibility as the highest judicial officer of our state, placed himself above the law, by refusing to abide by a final injunction entered against him, and by urging the public through the news media to support him, and because he is totally unrepentant, this court regrettably must remove Roy Moore from the office of Chief Justice of Alabama. The rule of law upon which our freedom depends, whether a judge, a police officer, or a citizen, demands no less.
My previous post further noted:
Most recently, Moore suggested that 9/11 might have been a punishment for the United States rejecting God. He has also said “maybe Putin is right” given Putin’s rejection of gay marriage — adding this about Putin: “Maybe he’s more akin to me than I know.”
All that is before you get to the fact that Moore has been credibly accused of being a creeper who regularly sought out young teenagers for sex — some as young as 14. Will Saletan argues: “The idea that all these girls, their mothers, their sisters, and their friends began coordinating a massive lie decades ago—and somehow conspired to keep it quiet through Moore’s many previous political campaigns, saving it for a special Senate election in 2017—is completely preposterous.” Despite fever swampers raising allegations of bribery first advanced by discredited Twitter accounts, there has never been a convincing explanation as to how so many people got together so long ago to defeat a years-into-the-future Senate bid.
And on the other hand you have Doug Jones, who loves him some federal funding for abortion — and seems to believe in his heart of hearts that late-term abortion is A-OK, even though he has backtracked to the standard “keep the laws as they are” position.
In other words, it’s the guy with the repulsively flawed character and lack of respect for the rule of law who will probably mostly vote the way we like, against the candidate with the repulsive policy views who will vote with the other side time and time again.
I don’t envy the people of the state of Alabama their choice, just like I didn’t envy the choice faced by the American people in 2016. I remain confident as ever that Alabama will make a choice similar to the one they made then, and won’t look back.
And somehow, with the hyper-partisanship on display from Democrats supporting Al Franken and John Conyers, capped by Nancy Pelosi’s virtuoso partisan demonstration over the weekend, I think Alabamans be able to cast that vote without too much shame. The thing about hyper-partisanship is that when you engage in it, the other side feels content to do a lot of things that might normally shame them. And that’s a relief for Republicans, because unlike Democrats — who have seated Killin’ Ted Kennedy and a guy who was impeached for bribery, all without a second thought — Republicans are still sometimes capable of feeling shame for backing a moral reprobate. Donald Trump is helping them get over it, but the pangs are still there for some. So the spectacle of hyper-partisanship from the Democrats is a soothing balm for the conscience, and should propel Moore to what I continue to expect will be a victory on December 12.
[Cross-posted at RedState and The Jury Talks Back.]